Sugar is the next-next-next-next food ingredient to get thrown under the bus as the root cause of all health and obesity problems. But hoooollld on…it’s crazy unreasonable to NEVER eat sugar again….so READ THIS POST!
If sugar isn’t healthy, but the kids are begging for sweets, what to choose? Fortunately, it’s been studied! A 2009 study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/19103324/) looked at the antioxident content of natural sugars vs refined sugars and concluded that three types of sugar have essentially NO antioxidant benefit: sugar, corn syrup and agave nectar. Yeah, well, we already all knew those three were on the “most wanted” posters.
But! Wander into the health food aisle and you may be surprised to learn that raw cane sugar fared only a small margin better in the antioxidant study. This ingredient has a “health halo,” as its an extremely common ingredient in items in organic items and it definitely “sounds” healthy and natural. But, crappily, this lab study showed it’s basically just marginally better than sugar, and not even enough so that it’s actually really any different, unless you are overindulging in sugar.
Moving on to what I call The Golidlocks Trio: maple syrup, brown sugar and honey. These each proved to be “just right” with intermediate antioxidant activity. Meaning: substitute a traditional sweetener for one of these three and it could be the antioxidant equivalent of a serving of berries. Golidlocks can taste all the oatmeal with these fixings!
But the clear healthy antioxidant sugar winner? Blackstrap molasses. And by a significant margin: its equivalent to 2 servings of berries. It’s also hard to overdo or binge on blackstrap molasses, as it’s a strong flavour, so I’d put this on the list of pantry ingredients.
So: yeah, sugar isn’t “healthy”. But we can make better choices. Cool, right?!?